, 124 min, 1993
Director: Nancy Savoca
Writers: Francine Prose (novel Household Saints), Richard Guay (screenplay) & Nancy Savoca (screenplay)
Stars: Tracey Ullman, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lili Taylor
Nancy Savoca’s Household Saints is a sweetly whimsical film which takes some period romance, family dynamics and generational gaps, mixes in a dash or two of magical realism, and blindsides you with its true depths – and its brilliance – in the process. It tells the story of three generations of an Italian-American family in New York City, and gives us insight into the ways in which superstitions, deep-seeded fears, and blind Catholic faith wax and wane throughout the decades. Continue reading
Tony Scott’s hyperkinetic, darkly funny, and hugely entertaining action extravaganza has more plot twists than you can count, and yet it’s also a surprisingly moving tale of young love in a violent, crazy world. Christian Slater is Clarence Worley, a Detroit comic book store clerk who spends his birthday at a Sonny Chiba kung-fu triple feature. There, he meets Alabama (Patricia Arquette), a sweet blonde gal with many similar interests. The two go out for pie and a conversation after the movie, have sex, and Clarence finds out that Alabama is a call girl. They get married and Clarence, urged forward by his Elvis-esque conscience (Val Kilmer), goes to get her things from her pimp, a wanna-be black gangsta named Drexyl (Gary Oldman). Clarence kills Drexyl and takes off with a suitcase, but it turns out to have tons and tons of uncut cocaine inside. Clarence and Alabama hatch a plan: they’ll go to Clarence’s ex-cop father (Dennis Hopper) for a bit of assistance before high-tailing it for Hollywood to stay with Clarence’s ex-college roommate Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport) and his pothead, couch-surfing roommate Floyd (Brad Pitt), use Dick’s contact with a movie studio underling (Bronson Pinchot) to get a meeting with a big-time movie producer named Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), and sell the cocaine to make enough money to retire to Cancun. This might make for a half-way decent plan if they knew that they have been followed by several Sicilian gangsters (including James Gandolfini as an introspective hitman) in league with a consiglieri named Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken). Add a couple of gung-ho detectives (Chris Penn and Tom Sizemore) into the mix, and you’ve got the makings for a good old-fashioned Mexican standoff. Tony Scott is known as a director of action films with a grasp of style over substance (“Top Gun,” “Days of Thunder”). Working from a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino (“Reservoir Dogs”), Scott has made a violent, darkly funny, and surprisingly bittersweet modern fable about two young dumb kids who just want a better life for themselves. Tarantino’s screenplay is melodramatic, intense, violent and contains tons of colorful dialogue with a plethora of memorable one-liners. The cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball is slick and glossy, with just the slightest aura of grit. The performances are all top-notch, high octane, and over-the-top, with a particularly memorable scene (with Dennis Hopper) coming from Christopher Walken, who is positively Satanic as a Sicilian mobster who just about meets his match in the least likely of places. This film may not have anything to say, but it is pure, unadulterated fun.
NOTE: The Unrated Director’s Cut on DVD runs 121 minutes.